USNTDP U18 Team prior to a game against the University of Minnesota
What have you been up to during the COVID-19 social distancing and quarantines? That’s the main question I asked the players who had their final U.S. National Team Development Progam season cut short. I was granted a bit of access to the guys on the U.S. Under-18 team and we talked a bit about everything from Netflix to highlights from this season. The USHL season may be canceled but these kids have put in a ton of work and played well this year. The majority of the interactions here were done just before the season was officially canceled but the team shows eagerness to at least get back together for training and ensure that they are ready for the NHL Draft Combine, if or whenever that happens in these uncertain times.
What are you as a player doing to pass the time during the league suspension of play?
Brock Faber (RHD, 6’0”, 194lbs): Right now I’m just relaxing. Spending lots of much needed time with my family and dog.
Luke Tuch (LW, 6’2”, 204lbs): During the time of the suspension, I have been spending time with my family back home in Syracuse NY. Also, since our gym has been closed, I have been working out in my basement. Fortunately, I have been able to skate at my local ice rink.
Luke Tuch of the U.S. NTDP represented the USA at the 5-Nations in November 2019
Eamon Powell (RHD, 5’11”, 165lbs): I am spending lots of time with my family as both my brothers are home as well, so I’m getting to spend lots of time with them and trying to stay in good shape.
Zakary Karpa (C, 6’1”, 174lbs): To pass the time, I am currently just hanging out friends and using this time to get some rest from the long season.
What are you watching on Netflix?
Faber: Currently, I’m not watching anything on Netflix. I’ve been just watching a bunch of movies.
Tuch: I have been watching the show ‘You’.
Drew Commesso (G, 6’2”, 181lbs): I am watching ‘Love is Blind’ on Netflix, as well as many movies. I’m more of a movie person since I try not to let tv shows eat up my free time.
Drew Commesso of the U.S. NTDP
Powell: I am currently watching ‘The Blacklist’ on Netflix. With lots of more free time than normal, I seem to find myself watching more and more of this show.
Karpa: I am currently binge-watching ‘Shooter’ on Netflix.
Are there any books your reading and why that book?
Tuch: Relentless by Julian Edelman because that’s the mindset that I want to have going into every game.
Commesso: I am ready Legacy by James Kerr. It’s about arguably the best team in sports, the All Blacks. I have just started, so not sure what will go on but interested to learn about what makes them so successful and honorable.
Powell: I’m not consistently reading any books as of right now just been trying to keep up with schoolwork while being out for a bit of time here.
Zakary Karpa of Team USA walks out of the tunnel at the 5-Nations Tournament in November
Karpa: I am currently reading Relentless about Julian Edelman. Our strength coach Brian recommended that we read it.
What has your coach asked of you while you are going through this process?
Faber: I think we are all kinda in shock. We worked so hard to get to where we were and were all so excited to represent our country during worlds. At this point, we can only control what we can control and hopefully stay in touch with all the guys.
Tuch: Our coach has asked us to be focused on the rest of the season and to not get distracted.
Commesso: It is obviously a tough situation for everyone on the U18 NTDP Team, as well as the entire world. Our coaches let us go home to our families to spend time with them during these hard times. We have to accept it’s all out of our control and make the right response to what is all happening. We continue to keep in touch and are training to get ready for the combine.
Defenseman Eamon Powell of the U.S. NTDP tracks the play at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan.
Powell: A lot of the guys are spending quality time with their families and enjoying their company during this crazy time, however our trainer at the NTDP has given us adjusted workouts and stuff that we can do to keep in shape for when we return.
Karpa: Our Coach has asked us to just stay safe and make good choices at this time. We hope to return to USA Hockey Arena as a team when this is over. We are also using this time to spend time with our families.
What are you doing to stay in shape and continue training during this time?
Faber: A lot of the ice rinks are closed and right now there really isn’t anything most of us can do at this point in time. Hopefully, this begins to decrease as the days go by so we can all get back on the ice and in the weight room.
Defenseman Brock Faber of the U.S. NTDP
Tuch: I have been working out in my basement and skating with my skills coach.
Commesso: As a goalie, since no rinks are open, I’m taking the time to study other NHL goalies with the help of my goaltending coach Brian Eklund. We pick a goalie each night and study their habits, tendencies and what makes them the best. Also, simple things like stretching and staying loose are important to keep my muscles flexible and healthy.
Powell: Our trainer has been in touch with our team consistently and has given us some workout plans that don’t require tons of equipment as many places are shut down. Anything we can do each day to get ourselves even a little bit better will help each of us down the road.
Karpa: I am currently just working out at home and will start training with [NTDP director of sports science] Brian [Galivan] again on the 23rd when USA Hockey Arena opens again. (This was prior to the full cancelation of the season)
What was your best personal highlight from this past season?
Faber: My favorite part of the season was for sure winning the tournament in Sweden. It was so awesome how we came together as a team and won.
Commesso: My personal highlight from the season was winning the U18 Five Nations tournament. We had worked so hard for so long and was an amazing feeling to sing our anthem after going undefeated in the tournament. We finished the year with an international record of 7-1, and although it’s unfortunate the World Tournament got canceled, I am proud to have been apart of such a successful and fun season.
Powell: My personal highlight of the year has to be winning the 5-Nations back in November with the guys. It was a great experience and a memory that will be forever remembered in my time with the NTDP.
The USA U18 team celebrates a win at the 5-Nations in Sweden this past November.
The end of the USHL season, and most leagues across hockey, isn’t the news anyone wanted to hear but the step was done in the mindset of protecting players, fans and team staff. The decision was the right one and we have to do our best to value the seasons that were had by the players in all of the leagues that were canceled. The NTDP always has fun teams and good players and this past year was no different. The work these kids all put in showed on the ice as they grew and developed in front of our eyes.
Thanks to the U.S. NTDP team for allowing me access to the players and helping show what the situation is like for players in all sports trying to train, educate themselves and wade through the murky waters that is the COVID-19 outbreak across the globe. We are all learning as we go. Staying safe and taking care of ourselves is vital in these situations.
Oftentimes when the best course of action is to prevent rather than treat an illness, the solution often looks like an overreaction. Stay inside and stay safe ladies and gentlemen.
Thanks for joining me for a chat with the U.S. NTDP team. Feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Twitter @theTonyFerrari, my DMs are always open! Be sure to check out the Dobber Prospects February Draft Report! This month I took a look at the biggest risers and fallers, an All-Under 5’10” team, and a profile on Marat Khusnutdinov.
Make sure you check out the full Dobber Prospects 2020 NHL DRAFT PAGE! There are over 60 player profiles and a ton more draft content including the January Draft Report with a full breakdown of myMid-Season Top-100 Rankings with video and analysis on 60+ players including nearly every player in the top-40!